The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the sixth book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series.

Published: 1997

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 387 pages

Setting: soon after the events of Bloody Bones, mostly in St. Louis Continue reading

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The Human Division by John Scalzi

This is the fifth book in the Old Man’s War series (which apparently I’ve only posted a review of the first book in the series – I’ll get to those other ones one of these days). It’s been out a few years now and I just never got around to it. I’m making an effort to finish those series this year.

Published: 2013

Genre: space opera science fiction

Length: 431 pages

Setting: various points in the Universe, soon after the events in The Last Colony Continue reading

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Our current topic for American History Club is the Civil War. I wanted us to read something about President Lincoln, and this book showed up when I did a search. It sounded interesting, and a little different since it was nonfiction, so I thought it was worth a shot.

Published: 2009

Genre: YA biographical nonfiction

Length: 194 pages

Setting: mostly April, 1865, the area around Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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Short Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Monday’s short fiction is from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, as I slowly make my way through the alphabet.

The Wanderers

Published: February 2013 in Clarkesworld

Genre: science fiction

Length: 8 pages

Setting: a future Earth

Summary: Aliens come to Earth after watching our entertainment. They know we’ll appreciate their ability to dominate and torture, based on all the movies they’ve watched. We’re doing a great job of hiding from them (as piles of ash that only one of the aliens realizes used to be people), but that just means Earth was the perfect place for them to come. They needed a challenge, after all, and their own subjects were boring and died without trying to fight back.

Final thoughts: This one was creepy. We’ve got aliens that think humanity likes torture and violence and horror, since that’s what our entertainment was all about. Of course, be careful around the cars. They must be weapons since they’re always exploding when they crash, which doesn’t match the physics of what should happen. The aliens kept making reference to classic movies that fit the situation (“…more like The Road or I Am Legend, only not like those at all because there was not even one of you left and no monsters in the shadows”). Turns out we killed all of humanity before the aliens could come and do it for us, and the aliens don’t realize it yet.

Title comes from: the aliens were the wanderers, looking for a good planet to inhabit and dominate

The Siren

Published: April 2013 in Strange Horizons; there’s also a podcast of the story

Genre: fantasy

Length: 12 pages

Setting: it felt like suburban California, present day

Summary: Mina shows up one day at Jen’s house. Her mom met her in Greece and invited her home. There’s something odd about her, starting with the bones poking through at her shoulder blades and continuing with the song she sings whenever she’s near the water. Turns out she’s a siren and, although not actively trying to harm Jen and her mother, her song drives them to nearly drowning. Jen decides to help Mina by crafting new wings for her, which sends her to a career of sculpting.

Final thoughts: While not as creepy as the previous story, this one was still quite depressing. None of the characters were particularly happy with their lives. Jen seemed to help the most – the wings she made for Mina did improve her life, and eventually her mom got over her dad’s death. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Wanderers.

Title comes from: Mina was a siren.

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Science Overview Books

My daughter’s gymnastics team is hosting a meet this weekend (Stars and Stripes, a big meet with 1800+ competitors over four days), so I’ve been busy at the convention center all weekend. Team parents are expected to work a couple of sessions to help the whole thing run smoothly. I still have time to review a couple of books, though. I found two interesting science books I want to talk about today:

Let me start with the more general book, The Science Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained) published by DK. DK does some great overview books, so I’m not surprised they are the publisher. This also seems to be one of a series of books focusing on big ideas simply explained (I need to get The Politics Book next for Mr. Curiosity). The book is organized chronologically and for each major scientific breakthrough, you see the chain of observations that lead to the conclusion, what people thought before and after the breakthrough, a biography about the scientist, and some explanatory information. The book has great graphics and is designed for minimal scientific knowledge. It certainly would be an asset to a homeschooling library.

The second book is BODY: A Graphic Guide to Us by Steve Parker and Andrew Baker. As you would expect from the name, each page is a large graphic about a part of the body. The book walks you through the different organ systems and explains how they work with simple graphics. I would just flip open to a page and immediately be drawn into fascinating little details about the body. Miss Adventure spent the entire drive home from the library going, “huh” and then having to read me some tidbit. Be aware that this was published in the UK, so there are some alternate spellings (oesophagus, for example) and the measurements are all in metric.

And those are the new books we flipped through in school this week. Joining up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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March: Book Two by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

This graphic novel continues the story started in March: Book One. Mr. Curiosity and I want to see how the story plays out (they still haven’t gotten to the bridge that showed up early in the story) and so we were going to get the next book.

Published: 2015

Genre: graphic novel memoir

Length: 179 pages

Setting: Washington, D. C. in 2009 and various southern locations in the early 1960s Continue reading

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The Twits by Roald Dahl

This is one of the BBC’s The Big Read books that we happened to have lying around the house. I must have seen it in at a thrift store or something and picked it up because Dahl always makes for a good read aloud. I thought it would be a good start to our year as a read aloud.

Published: 1980

Genre: middle grade fiction (there are talking animals, but they only talk to each other and it doesn’t really feel like fantasy)

Length: 76 pages with lots of illustrations

Setting: England, it felt like the 1940s, but certainly not even the 1980s. Continue reading

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